Editorial: It’s about time
We were gratified to learn last week that the Craig City Council is planning to adopt a more aggressive strategy in dealing with vacant — and, in some cases, derelict — properties around town.
Specifically, during a July 24 meeting, council members — in response to a complaint from the Downtown Business Association — reset their sights on the Golden Cavvy Building, a downtown structure located at 538 Yampa Ave. In its prime, the Golden Cavvy Building was, no doubt, a credit to the Craig streetscape.
In recent years, however — particularly since the building became vacant in 2013 — it has fallen into serious disrepair.
It’s exterior walls are covered with graffiti, and the structure has begun to attract homeless persons in search of a place to sleep, even though a March 27 inspection of the property by Craig Building Official Marlin Eckhoff concluded the building is not suitable for human occupation.
The Downtown Business Association claims the building’s owner, Harley Guess, has had ample opportunity to correct the problems but has offered little to no communication with the association.
The city, too, has made attempts to work with Guess.
Eckhoff posted a letter to Guess in April, outlining the problems and giving him 60 days to correct them. According to Eckhoff, after confirming receipt of the first letter, he sent a second at the beginning of July, allowing Guess an additional 30 days to take action or face intervention by the city.
Based upon the timeframe outlined in the second letter, that 30-day extension has either expired or is about to.
With these facts in mind, we encourage City Council to follow through, even if that means condemning the building and placing a lien against it to cover mitigation costs.
That said, please allow us to qualify our position.
We do not blanketly condone the condemnation and removal of every historic building in Craig that has fallen a little behind in the upkeep department. Our historic buildings — when properly maintained — can serve as local treasures, linking past to present in a tangible representation of brick, mortar, and wood, and such buildings should be preserved whenever possible.
But when a piece of the past becomes a drag on the future, it’s time to reevaluate.
On the front page of this edition of the Craig Press, we report that Peter Brixius has been named Craig’s new city manager, and it is our sincere hope he will offer the leadership we need to eliminate the eyesores around town that serve only as a drain on our economy and our quality of life.
And we’re not talking only about the Golden Cavvy Building. From the old K-Mart building to the shuttered Safeway store, there are examples of this troubling trend across the city, and the situation is made even more untenable when one considers that other local business owners — and the Downtown Business Association — have invested heavily in making — and keeping — downtown Craig an attractive and inviting place for residents and visitors, alike.
“We need to start being more aggressive and budgeting some money to take care of these structures,” Mayor John Ponikvar said Thursday morning. “The city may wind up owning some buildings, but in the longrun, it might be worth it.”
On this point, we are in complete agreement with the mayor, and to his sentiment, we would add only this.
It’s about time.